Sunday, June 28, 2009

My daughter… the button pusher

Skadi is more and more starting to remind me of one person in my life… my sister. I have been trying to figure out if this is simply because as an older sibling, the fact that she is a younger sibling lumps her in that category. Two aspects of her personality I think she has inherited from my sister... the first is her ability to push buttons, the mental buttons. And the second is her fashion sense.

We’ll tackle the second one first. It’s easier. When my sister was a little girl she would pile and pile on clothes of all types. She was a touch stubborn about what she wore and terribly opinionated about her clothes. My sister had this red dress that when she wore it made her look like she stepped out of the Heidi stories. It had a full skirt and lots of ric rac. I remember my mom peeling it off her while she slept to wash it. Skadi hasn’t approached that level of obsession just yet, though I can see it in her future. She far prefers clothes with cupcakes on them (pajamas too) and once on she announces, “it’s my birthday!”

Yes, it is STILL her birthday. Her brother’s upcoming birthday is going to be a stark realization. Or not. She may just believe (as my sister did) that everyone was celebrating HER birthday!

The first one I mentioned above I talked to my mom about the other day. The button pushing. My mom and I agreed that button pushing may just be one of those things that the youngest child is destined to lead the race on. When you think about it, this makes sense. The older child never had anyone with which to derive joy out of attempts to make them miserable.

Probably the single person in my life who knows how to push my buttons like no one’s business is my younger sister. It is made worse for me, now as an adult, because I feel paralyzed in the presence of this. As a child I was not allowed to respond to her because it might trigger an argument. And arguments didn’t happen in my house. My sister and I would start and would immediately be shushed by my mom who grew up in a family of bickering and therefore had more than her share.

Warning: NM’s Pop Psychiatry 101 (hey, I took high school psychology!)

Unfortunately how this manifested itself is that my sister and I have never learned how to argue with each other. And I think this combined with the fact that my sister and I are very different people, has lead to part of the reason we don’t communicate much anymore. We are cordial with each other, love each other’s kids to bits despite only seeing them once a year or so, and we do love each other. But our level of friendship doesn’t go much deeper than this I am sad to say. She occasionally reads my blog and may have a different take on all this… it may stem back to my making her drink spit, or telling her that the car wash scrubbers were retired Muppets, or from years of my mistaking my role as an older sister and trying to be a mom – when she already clearly had one. Her leg up on me, and still is, is that she can push my buttons.

Right now I feel my mom’s pain from 30 years ago. I don’t like hearing my kids argue. And at this stage it is all about the little things that will never get resolved because my kids don’t comprehend conflict management very well at this stage. Leif is learning at his Montessori school, Skadi will learn. But right now they both believe they are right 100%.

And usually neither of them is.

I make a point to step back. I try to listen to them to get a sense of what is going on so that when one of them comes running to me to complain about the other I have some idea. I try to avoid that easy statement that I heard so much as a kid, “just quit arguing, NOW!” When I was a kid my mom added onto the end of that statement about how she had three brothers and always wanted a sister she could be friends with, we should be best friends as sisters! I can’t tell you how many times as a kid (and I am sure my sister felt the same way) I wanted to tell my mom, “I’ll trade her for a brother!” Kind of like that whole “eat your food, there are children starving in Africa” theory whereby every child at some point has offered to mail their food to the unfortunate starving children. How realistic really, is this?

Skadi pushes Leif’s buttons. He does it back a little, but not nearly as much. His button pushing is limited to taking her things and refusing to return them, insisting he is using them and that they take turns. This usually results in much screaming. I am all for taking turns with things, but I am also on deck with the Montessori school philosophy that a child can have a toy and play with it, without being forced to surrender the toy because another child showed interest.
Skadi is more subtle.

“I love you mommy,” Leif will say.

“I love you mommy,” Skadi will say.

“Hey she copied me, stop copying me Skadi,” Leif will say.

“Stop copying me!” Skadi will say.

“Skadi, STOP copying me,” Leif will say.

“Stop copying me!” Skadi will say while giggling hilariously.

Yes, this is the point where I need to intervene to save my sanity from hearing “stop copying me” going back and forth 459 times and to minimize tears. Leif's tears. And it happens on all topics, Leif stating that he likes Scooby Doo – Skadi states this too and she is immediately fingered as “copying”. If they get to pick fruit snacks, Skadi waits to see which Leif will pick and then picks the same as him.

I have been trying to convince Leif that it may seem like copying, but it really is just admiration, she wants to be like him. Though in all honesty… I am not sure I can say this without wondering if it is really true or not. Or maybe that is my paranoia setting in from similar interactions with my sister? Or maybe it’s seeing that glint in my daughter’s eye that says, “THIS is what would upset my brother!”

There are instances that support this theory. Like when Skadi declares her favorite color to be yellow (in Leif's presence) and insists on the yellow cup, the yellow bowl, or the yellow crayon, etc. But if you ask her what her favorite color is without Leif in near proximity her response is purple or orange and yesterday she selected pink butterfly wings at the Renaissance Faire. Yet if Leif is around she immediately hones in on a yellow item that he may want. That same glint is in her eye during this routine too.

I suppose one area I can glean from this is my statistically insignificant assessment that I was wrong as a little girl when I thought that having a brother instead of a sister would make it all better. I am quite positive that there is equal amounts of bickering between opposite gender children and same gender children.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

On Becoming a Soccer Mom

That's me, a real, official, card carrying soccer mom!

Leif started soccer about a week ago through the YMCA for four and five year olds. We signed him up and he couldn't wait to start. It's important that he wear a particular soccer shirt for practice... the one that makes me feel like either a bad sport mom or white trash mom, not sure which.

Leif picked out the shirt from Target one day. It's a sleeveless t-shirt, which sorry, I just can't stand. T-shirts need sleeves. But then it has a soccer ball on it and says, "Winning is the Goal". Which if you are in YMCA soccer, winning is not the goal, playing a being a good sport is. Still I bought the shirt and feel a touch embarrassed by the fact that it is by far and away his favorite shirt.

Anyways, last week the team got together and sat in a circle on the ground. They said their names and their favorite food.

My son fibbed.

He said that his favorite food was "all food!" It would have been more accurate if he declared, "no food".

After the introductions they went around and suggested names for the team. The first kid started out with "Huskies", which in this part of Washington either gives you cheers or jeers. We swing both ways in this region. The next suggestion was for the "horsies" and they gravitated back towards food items which led Leif to suggesting the team be "the Macaroni and Cheeses".

They finally nixed the food names and the kids picked the Horses. Yay horses!

Tonight on the way home Leif admitted he didn't like "The Horses" and if it was alright, he was going to continue to call the team "The Macaroni and Cheeses". Yes, my kid marches to a different drummer.

Skadi then picked it up and said, "how about pepperoni heads!?"

That was my second episode of laughing hilariously tonight.

Of course this resulted in her squealing "pepperoni heads" the whole way home.

Leif loves soccer, he really does. He is set for gear with shin guards and a new soccer ball with his name on it. He looks forward to practice and can't wait for his first game on Thursday.

I wondered if they would scrimage a little today in preparation for the game so the kids had some idea of what they were doing as they stand opposite some other team. Sure enough they split up to 6 kids on each side and scrimmaged. Sans goalies (which kills Leif - that's his favorite position to play at school).

Leif took to soccer... well like a horse I guess! He gets right in the mix and has AB put it, he was more beat up by his own team dogpiling him than the other team.

I wish I would have had a video camera but at one point Leif had the ball and knew he needed to get it turned around and headed towards the other goal. But he was down at the goal his team was defending. So he dribbled the ball out behind the goal, through the parents on the sideline and down the field... all the while with 11 children on his heels following his every step and the coaches yelling, "out of bounds" and "LEIF stop!"

Then they just let him go. And go. And go. Until he tripped over his own feet, fell down and had 11 children land on top of him.

Leif was terribly happy he had made the group of parents watching laugh.

Andy commented something to the effect that we may have laughed when they said the goal was to keep the kids ON the soccer field, but apparently that IS a challenge. Boundaries mean nothing to 4-5 year olds.

Niranjana's grandma at one point commented that this was far more entertaining than watching older kids play soccer! She is right.

We need to work on the listening aspect. I don't know how many times I heard the coach yelling, "Leif, Leif, LEIF stop!"

No ball was left to sit idle in Leif's presence.

We will be working on the listening part.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Problem of Apathy? (Part 2)

I really am not as apathetic as I sound about the environment. I just have my things that I focus on.

Yards and watering is one. It drives me bonkers when I see people watering in the heat of the day. Water at night or in the morning where you aren't losing so much to the air around. And don't get me started on the sprinklers that are on during the rain. I like drip systems and soaker hoses in my gardens. Also those big huge acre fully grassed yards. Sure, it's pretty I guess to have everything green and the same. But what a pain to mow. If someday I should have a large lot it won't be all grass, and if it is when my kids are older, it will be unlikely to have any grass. I look at those gardens in Sunset where the yard IS the garden... love that.

Paper products is another. The catalogs, the flyers, the ads, etc., that we get in the mail. I hesitate to actually stop them altogether through that website that eliminates junk mail, because they do have a place... right a few months before Christmas. Sure, inundate me then where I can sit down in the evening and scope out ideas for gifts from the comfort of my couch. And seasonal ones, because yes I am a sucker for cute Easter decorations and the like. The rest? Keep 'em.

We are trying to sell our old house right now by owner and a favorite tactic of local agents is to send postcards and flyers and "instructions" detailing how to sell your home (all the hard work it will take). They are just offering "tips"... they would never be trying to actually solicit from you the listing... never. One pair we get 5-6 pieces of mail from them every week. It is on my list to phone them and ask them to quit wasting resources because we are listing our home by owner because my mother in law is a licensed real estate agent AND if we did choose to go the agent route (and we might still) it won't be them! We would choose the agents/friends we bought this house with.

Ok, off my pulpit and back to the topic at hand. The sub-topic I have been avoiding and that got me thinking about formulating this post last week...


We need a new one. It could be within a matter of weeks or a year. Whenever the Subaru decides to give up the ghost. It will happen.

Can I admit that I have never coveted a Prius? Never. I got semi-interested when the hybrid engine Highlander was introduced a few years ago. But the availability was slim at best.

A friend of mine from daycare commented the other day that he read on Facebook about the car dilemma. Then he commented, “well now you can get a smaller car!”

I think he was referring to replacing my 4Runner and so I reminded him that this is my husband’s car we are talking about… The Outback. Not MY 4 Runner.

I might as well get it over with… I LOVE my 4Runner. Love it. Yes, I am an evil capitalist gas-hogging SUV driving American. According to many out there, the source of all that is wrong in America.

While we were deciding the other day what to do with AB’s car (we ended up deciding to fix the transmission so it is drivable for some unknown period of time with a cracked head gasket while we figure out what kind of car we want), AB asked me, “if money was not an issue, what kind of car would you buy?”

We aren’t car people. I don’t have a specific car that I covet. I envision myself someday when kids are grown driving either a Volvo C-70 or a Benz. But frankly, I love my 4Runner.

AB’s idea is that he gets MY 4Runner and I get a minivan.

Oh joy.

Have I mentioned that I am NOT a minivan person? Just not. It is probably more practical to go that route, though not my chosen route. (I did remind him the other day that if he gets the new job he is applying for that HE can get a minivan and pick the kids up daily!)

One consideration is a truck. When I was a kid my mom had a car, my dad had a truck. It was just always that way. We are always needing to haul stuff and add to it that one component of our “when we sell the house” plan is to buy a travel trailer. With the 4Runner we are limited to a max weight of hauling 5000 lbs. Which then limits us to an “Ultralite” (which is fine) or a small travel trailer. We want hard sides because we aspire to use the travel trailer in different seasons (Olympics 2010, skiing, Yellowstone off season...). But if we were able to haul more the options become much better.

However, the question really becomes how “practical” is a truck really when you have two children and two dogs? I refuse to put my dogs in the back of a truck. And we really need space to seat 6 so that when we have visitors that we don’t always have to shuffle car seats and take two cars.

I mumbled under my breath to Hans what my ultimate choice would be… thankfully I don’t fear scorn from my husband.

A Sequoia.

Then I can take my gas guzzling, SUV driving to the extreme with the step up from my beloved 4Runner.

And maybe what the real option is to take the Subaru and the 4Runner to the dealership and ask for a deal on a Sequoia (for me) and a Prius (as a commuter car for AB). Then I can at least offset my carbon footprint. When I get scorns of disapproval I can nod at the Prius?

I know, I know... why the guilt? Someday I may have an answer for you.

This post is now open for flaming.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's Not Easy Being Green (Part 1)

Considering we live in the Evergreen state - we don’t live in the “greenest” of regions. This is kind of funny given the Department of Energy’s stronghold on the area. Washington state has a reputation for hippies, trees and ecological friendliness. Thanks to the west side for all that. We reside in the east side. The land of nuclear waste and open desert – yes desert in Washington state – at least half the state is high desert. And no, I am not joking.

I think back to living in Boulder, Colorado from 1991 to 1996 and I don’t think this region is even close to catching up with Boulder in the 90’s. Though Boulder IS a special circumstance… those of you who have visited, understand. It may be more fair to compare to Reno in the late 90’s. I would put the area on par with Reno… which doesn’t say much to compare it to the great state of Nevada where (when I lived there) you could smoke in grocery stores.

Parts of our town recently received the first installment of a pilot recycling program. A dumpster for recycling that if I understand the program correctly (our old neighborhood is part of the pilot, not the new) decreases trash pick up to every other week, with the off weeks being recycling pick up. I am hoping that the pilot program gets picked up and we will soon have our own recycling bin at the new house.

However, I do understand the economics of recycling at least a little. Statistics show that a lot of recyclables actually end up in the landfill. And when you live in a small region that doesn’t have local recycling infrastructure, the benefits of recycling are quickly outweighed by the cost to ship/truck the recyclables to a larger population center (which may or may not then be recycled per the above).

When I was a little girl my grandmother and I would walk around her neighborhood (not the best part of Casper, WY) and pick up aluminum cans. Then we would take them to the big recycling center in town where they would weigh them and we would get a few bucks for ice cream. I started recycling way before it was “the thing” to do. Interesting though that now any aluminum cans usually end up in our trash. (Though AB and I have both quit drinking pop and so we don’t have the aluminum can dilemma in our home anymore.)

Now? I hate to admit that our recycling is limited to cardboard and whatever glass and plastics we pull together the week or two leading up to the needed trip to the recycling drop off. I do make an effort to reuse plastic bags though and I would eventually like to switch the kids over to cute Bento boxes for lunches instead of baggies containing their food.

Then there is the whole organic push. As a chemist I believe in better living through chemistry. And in some instances, organic farming does not mesh with sustainable farming. Though the details on this are admittedly vague to me. However, nearly everything lately is labeled “organic!” and much of the processed foods (gasp, yes, we eat processed foods) that we enjoy sport the label. It is almost to the point that going non-organic is hard. (Not that in the large scheme of things, I care one way or another about this one, I have bigger things on my list of concerns.)

I am admittedly a part time locavore too. We look forward to eating the locally grown produce every year and enjoy the seasonality of lots of fruits and vegetables. The Farmer’s Market is a favorite outing on Saturdays and the single most authentic Farmer’s Market I have ever attended. In Reno, the food was trucked over from the Central Valley in California and was essentially the same produce you were getting at the store except that the proceeds were going directly to the farmer instead of to the grocery store and whatever route it then takes to the farmer. This was except for asparagus and garlic. I loved the Boulder Farmer’s Market and I still hold a strong preference for Colorado corn and peaches. But likewise, those were trucked in from all over the state. This area has afforded us the opportunity to become true locavores…

in the summer.

But our locavore status wanes around October and doesn’t pick up again until June. A true locavore would maybe not eat any vegetables then, I suppose? Or maybe they would have been more organized than I am and have canned and preserved all summer. (Something I would LIKE to do.) Nope, in the winter I buy my broccoli from somewhere, my bell peppers from Mexico or Chile and we eat a lot of canned fruit from anywhere BUT China. I buy berries in the winter from Costco because walking by the plump blueberries without grabbing a quart in the dead of winter is nearly impossible. I tell myself that this is ok, because it is supporting farmers in other countries. Which is the better trade off – supporting other countries or the environmental cost of shipping the produce? No idea.

Oh then there is light bulbs. A year or two ago there was a huge push at my son’s school to replace ALL your light bulbs with compact fluorescents. We happily wrote our name down on the list and the number of bulbs we replaced so that the 1st and 2nd graders could calculate out how much energy we had saved as a school. Then I noticed something. Those bulbs freaking suck. The light is awful. They are fluorescent bulbs – the same ones that everyone complains about as being artificial in office buildings. The twitch and take a few seconds to come on. Then they don’t just burn out, they die a slow death whereby the light gradually fades. Oh and they don’t work with dimmers. Found that one out recently after I replaced four bulbs in ceiling fan and turned them on, adjusted the light and then jumped as I listened to all four pop. That was a waste.

I can deal with compact fluorescents in a few places – the high ceilings of our garage where it is a serious pain to change the bulbs. Outside on the patio for the same reason. The spare bathrooms. Basically areas where the light quality doesn’t really matter and/or where it might be a pain in the butt to change the light bulbs.

To be continued...

Monday, June 08, 2009


I keep thinking I will get a good picture of the kids that I can use for a new banner picture. No time like the present to try, right? I like bathtime pictures... when the water stays in the tub.

Ok. Who is this? When did this big kid appear at my house? He is still supposed to be an itty bitty boy!

Maybe we should have clothes on for the banner photo?

This is my little girl too

I can never resist a great deal. Especially if it is on cute little girl clothes.

Last year I found this dress on PBKids on clearance and of course succumbed to it. Nevermind that it is white. And white is so impractical.

But it was like $6.99!

And she looks like a little tennis pro in it.

(That's her monkey with the stretchy arms she is playing with.)

And never mind that it so isn't her. Like at all.

Amazingly she picked it out the other day and declared she wanted to wear it to school. I figured it might be the only time she ever wears it and so I better jump on it... and get pictures.

She is my little girl...

But this picture isn't *REALLY* my little girl.

The princess update

Every night at bedtime Skadi announces now as she is falling asleep that the princess has not come and taken her binky.

She announces this with pride. Too much pride. Pride that kills me to actually follow through with the plan to take the binky away.

Tonight she announced, "princess no take binky, no take my monkey, no take my blankey OR my baba."

I know I am overthinking it all, but I just can't take it away now. She is actually fearing losing her things to some evil princess! Or so it seems.

Nope, I am a sucker. I reassure her every evening that no, no princess is coming to take her binky.

AB has commented that "it isn't like she is walking around with it during the day, she just uses it at nap and for bed. It's not THAT big of a deal."

Nope it isn't.

We will live with a binky for awhile longer.
The past few weeks… ok, months, I have been a touch stressed. I don’t like owning two homes. I want the one that is up for sale to sell. We hardly have time to maintain one house, let alone a second one about a mile away and empty.

I took active mental steps to get us on the road to dealing with the new house. I needed focus and clarity on what exactly needed to happen beyond “empty boxes” since I can easily dump a box out. Where to put the stuff laying on the floor in a pile is a bigger issue.

When I started packing the house up to move I saw it as an opportunity to purge. At least early on I did. Later in the process I just started dumping stuff in boxes. The real opportunity to purge is coming now. Because there were boxes and piles of things that were garage sale or Goodwill… and instead of getting hauled to Goodwill, or actually having a garage sale, instead they were just moved to the new house and are still my problem to deal with. And despite having a larger house, I am still struggling with where to put things.

My answer to a lot of the issues in the new house is to do the one room a month thing. Each month (or other set period of time) I tackle one room. I set out a plan of attack, figure out what would make that room fly, scale back my dreams to somewhat realistic, and then put it into action. I am not always great with the deadline aspect. But sometimes it is just best to move on to the next room without the one room being completely finished. I am nothing if not a good procrastinator. Sometimes best to say, “just not going to get done, maybe next year”.
I actually didn’t do a single thing to the foyer this past weekend.

So I guess this introduction really isn’t that valid here. Since what all I did get accomplished didn’t have much to do with the room (or really area) that I am currently tackling. Except suffice it to say that there are three things that need to happen in the foyer, one of them for AB to do (hang the mirror) and the other is so easy to forget that I need to keep it on my radar by mentioning it (get 'off white' paint to touch up the ceiling where I was unable to keep my brush on the wall - what exactly WAS I doing while painting? Apparently not paying attention...). I also want a bench, but I can’t justify the money for that right now when the other house has not sold.

Since tackling the foyer wasn’t in the cards for the weekend I decided to steer myself towards the room giving me the most angst… the Master bedroom. There were still boxes all over to be unpacked. Boxes that upon examination of the contents were things that for the most part could be ignored for who knows how long. Except that every time I walked into the Master bedroom – which is a lot of times – I cringed at the boxes lining the wall under the windows.

So Saturday while Skadi napped and Leif went semi-neglected in front of the computer – I unpacked them! I did a lot of throwing away… purging, of things that should have been purged before moving and during the packing phase.

Once finished I made AB go in and admire the room more than once. It gave me such a feeling of peace and calm to have those boxes gone.

Truth be told, one box remains. One small, but very full and heavy box. I know what is in it… the many books that were stacked in our bedroom at the other house. Books that need to go in the bookshelf… that AB has to modify to fit into the office. So for now, until I can get that box hauled downstairs, a box of books sits in there. I can deal with a box of books for now.

It was a very uneventful weekend otherwise. We cooked. We went on a few hikes. AB held an open house. We worked on maintenance on the yard at the other house - a sprinkler has broken and left a large patch of brown grass in the backyard... gurrr. We played soccer. We watched the thunderstorms and lightning. We watched movies. We were lazy.

It was a good weekend.

I am ready for another.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


I have been testing out different tactics for getting rid of the binkies. Or binky, since Skadi only has one left.

We talked about giving all the binkies to Cate's new little sister. That worked for about a day, but evidently I have a me-centric daughter who doesn't think that is the best route and baby can buy her own.

Then Brooke's mommy posted about a fairy coming and taking the binkies. I liked this idea and so we have been suggesting that a fairy princess is going to come and take her binkies and leave cupcakes and a present (kind of like her birthday... that she still thinks is everyday... and apparently her teacher is STILL singing happy birthday to her daily at lunch). This was showing a little promise.

The other day one of Skadi's doll blankets went missing - it was in the other room, but oh well. It was missing.

"The princess took it," Skadi said matter of factly.

Ok, maybe this WOULD work! I started pushing it and talking about cupcakes and presents.

Then this evening hit...

Skadi was thrashing around in bed getting ready to fall asleep. While jabbering away about whatever the binky falls out of her mouth. I saw it slip under the cover.

About 5 minutes later she says, "binky?"

I said, "I don't know, maybe you should try falling asleep without it?"

She sits up on her knees.

And SCREAMS at the top of her lungs.


I am mean, I was laughing so hard I could hardly stand it. I thought I would try and let this play out.

Then the lip started quivering... it dawned on me I didn't have a gift yet in exchange of the binky... and I certainly wasn't going to go downstairs and make cupcakes.

I started fishing around the bed for the binky.

Stuck it in her mouth.

"Princess needs to buy her own binky," Skadi tells me.


Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Leif update 4 years 10 months

Leif’s 5th birthday is just around the corner. Less than two months and I will have a five year old. It sounds cliché, but I have no idea where the time has gone. No idea whatsoever.

Since Leif was little I have commented on his OCD nature. He gets on one subject/TV show/game/whatever, and he will take it to an extreme. Curious George has gone by the wayside, but soccer has entered the picture. If a child doesn’t play soccer during recess, then Leif isn’t going to be playing with that child. And there is nothing I can do to convince him otherwise. He is fully obsessed with soccer right now, insists on only wearing soccer shirts, must practice soccer daily at home and plays at every recess.

And he is good. He dribbles the soccer ball around the field better than I can.

He starts soccer for 4-5 year olds in two weeks. I am both fearing this and looking forward to it. He will practice once a week and have a game once a week. So twice a week we are going to be hanging out at the soccer field. The aspect of this I am fearing, is Leif’s seriousness about the sport.

When we were signing the kids up for soccer the woman at the YMCA desk indicated that the special training that a parent coach volunteer should have was an ability to keep the kids on the soccer field. Okaaaayyy then. I was suddenly recalibrated.

Oh and did I mention there are no goalies? Right, no goalies. Leif’s favorite position to play. And yes, he knows there are positions in soccer.

I work with a woman who lamented to me when her son was just older than Leif that her son was very annoyed by sports. Annoyed that the other kids didn’t take it as serious as he does. Annoyed that they would hang out and talk on the field instead of focus on winning. I have a feeling I am going to be feeling Mary’s pain soon.

So yeah, Leif likes soccer.

He also likes the computer. We bought a new computer a few months ago and AB happened to find a set of games (free trials) that Leif enjoyed – Polar Golf, Polar Tubing and Polar Bowling. All starring a Polar Bear who announces, “I’m the bear!” at the start. And we have to wait for him to announce this before proceeding to the game. They are fun games that even AB and I enjoy sitting down and playing with Leif. Yes, Leif stomps me at most every game.

Polar Golf has inspired Leif to declare that he wants to learn to play golf for real – he knows what an eagle, birdie, par, bogey and double bogey are and announces which he got on a hole before the narrator announces it. As you may have guessed, unfortunately these games have also morphed into a little bit of an obsession with Leif. However, losing computer privileges is THE most powerful threat ever.

Leif’s interest in movies and TV has taken a back seat to soccer, computer games, his Leapster (which he turns on when he is frequently told he has had enough computer games) and tormenting his sister.

Ok, truth be told, his sister torments him. But he usually starts it, then ends up the one in tears thanks to his sister the brute.

Leif is in a terribly emotional phase right now. He fears being separated from us, hurting himself, dying, loud noises and the unknown. I haven’t figured out if this phase is normal for his age yet. Or if he is just a very emotional little boy. (AB votes for the later.) That’s alright, I will take my mama’s boy. We had to print up a picture of he and I to keep in his locker box at school for the occasions when he gets lonely for me. He cried yesterday in the car as he misses grandma and Bompa. His tears, usually prompt mine, so we have been an interesting pair the past week!

Leif enjoys his works at school and prides himself on his progress. He works at his penmanship, reading and numbers works daily. He can write his name as well as other words when spelled out for him. He can read simple words. He quickly memorizes books and songs – a skill I don’t have, I suck at memorizing. And he is doing basic addition. His fascination with numbers continues and he is constantly asking questions like, “what is 1000 plus 60?” and requests that we quiz him regularly on his addition.

His favorite number is 1021 and he cracks me up when he asks me if I would please count by 71’s (or some other unconventional way to skip count). I am a numbers geek and yes, I can count by 71’s, which thrills Leif to pieces. But it fascinates me that he has chosen prime numbers as the numbers he shows the most interest in.

Leif loves the Mo Willems, Elephant and Piggie early reader books (thanks to Kelley for recommending them). We have read Little House on the Prairie and are looking forward to continuing that series when we get the boxes of books moved out of storage and to the house. For some reason I didn’t pull that set out… kicking myself.

I bought a few other chapter books to read aloud and have been met with mixed success. "Choose Your Own Adventure" books have proven to be a bit hard to comprehend, but the Patrick Carman (from Walla Walla – making him even cooler) books, Elliot’s Park Series are big hits so far. I am looking forward to getting Leif the Land of Elyon series, but I think he may be a touch young for them just yet.

We are at a difficult point with Leif because he is a very intelligent kid (according to his teachers), yet very emotionally immature. By age, just barely, he should go to kindergarten this year. However, it is typical for boys with summer birthdays to not go into kindergarten and to wait a year. We have waffled on this because we also would hate for Leif to eventually be bored in school. However, studies have shown that kids’ ages catch up with them about grade 3. That is the point where the younger kids tend to fall behind and start to struggle. Add into that sports, Leif really enjoys sports and as a smaller, younger child, he may not have the opportunities or positive experiences that he otherwise would. His teachers have encouraged us to not stress about it, he will stay in his same school where he will work at his own pace and we will ignore the lines of “this is kindergarten work” and “this is preschool work”. We will see what happens with the coming year. Leif is not enrolled as a kindergartener, however, he has switched to the group of children who will have the kindergarten teacher as their lead. Confusing and for an analytical person like myself a little disconcerting to not have the quantitative measure. However, I am learning to put aside my need for quantitation in favor of the Montessori approach.

Leif’s 5th birthday will be at the gymnastics gym and he is already making plans. He intends to have a Star Wars birthday (hopefully I will have his bedroom done in Star Wars colors by then also) and he is counting the days.

It should also be a good experience for Skadi… though startling for her to realize that the 4 solid months of it being her birthday everyday will come to an end. I am eager to see how she spins his birthday party to benefit herself!

Leif continues to say funny things and come up with interesting observations. When he is happy - like this afternoon when I told him we would be meeting grandma and Bompa at the cabin this fall - he exclaims, "hooray!" I am not sure where he picked up "hooray", but I like it.

Leif has a list of girls he plans on marrying. It is typically Niranjana and Cate at the top, but occasionally the top tier is toppled by a kindergartener... his heart maybe broken when she moves on later this summer.

Along with the proud moments comes those mortifying moments too... A few weeks ago Leif and I were out and about. We were standing in line and the woman behind us, younger than me and assumably no children, asked Leif how old he was. He told her and said, "but my birthday is coming up". She asked him what he wanted for he birthday?

He didn't even pause before he spit out, "a shotgun".

I could have melted right there. In the house I draw the line at squirt guns. Everyone says, "boys will be boys" and I am starting to believe this. I am even softening a touch at the one thing that Leif really wants for his birthday - a Nerf gun. Sigh. I don't know where my son has ever heard of shotguns, but wow he is attracted to anything that shoots a projectile.

I guess the one positive thing with a Nerf gun is that I will have another item that he can lose privileges with!

Or I can just push for a razor scooter like the kindergartener down the street has. He and Leif have recently (this past weekend) become fast friends after an afternoon of squirt guns and slip and slides.